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'Not OK' for pastors to operate machine guns: Swedish church

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'Not OK' for pastors to operate machine guns: Swedish church
08:35 CEST+02:00
The Church of Sweden has ruled that pastors are not allowed to man machine gun turrets while serving in the field with Swedish troops in Afghanistan.

"A Swedish field pastor carries a weapon, but only to be used in self-defence and to protect others," Marie-Louise Olsson Rautalinko, a lawyer with the cathedral chapter in Härnösand in northern Sweden, said in a statement.

The ruling comes following an investigation into the actions of Daniel Breimert, who used a column published in February the local Örnsköldsviks Allehanda and Tidningen Ångermanland newspaper to describe an occasion when he climbed behind the machine gun mounted on the top of an armoured vehicle.

"On the road with a vehicle convoy to Shebergan it's my turn to man the machine gun on the roof of the Galten we're riding in," wrote Breimert.

In early April, the matter was reported to the bishop by Jan Grimell, a military officer with a degree in theology, who described the pastor's actions as "absurd".

"If a pastor is sitting behind a machine gun, then he's misunderstood his mission. He should be there for spiritual guidance and church-related matters; there are soldiers who can man the machine gun," Grimell told the newspaper.

Breimert later admitted his actions were "inappropriate", an assessment shared by the cathedral chapter in Härnosand.

He told the newspaper he only got behind the machine gun because he couldn't drive the armoured vehicle or operate the radio, leaving the machine gun post as the only job left he could perform.

In light of Breimert's expressions of regret, and promise that the incident will not be repeated, the cathedral chapter decided not to pursue any further disciplinary action against him.

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